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Galapagos Islands

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Galapagos wildlife, Reptiles

Galapagos Islands wildlifeThe Galapagos Islands are home to some of the rarest flora and fauna in the world. But the wildlife that inspired naturalist Charles Darwin's theory of evolution are under threat. The Islands have a wide array of endemic fauna, invertebrates, birds, reptiles and a few mammals, which are native to the islands rather than introduced. The Galapagos Tortoise is the most well known of all the endemic creatures. These giant tortoises, all of which are endangered due to hunting and introduced species, include 11 subspecies adapted to the terrain of their island home.

The cool waters of the Humboldt Current, originating in the Antarctic and flowing northward along South America, veers away from the coast just south of the equator and sweeps directly into the Galapagos. Especially during the garua season from June to December, the Humboldt brings rich food source for sea-going mammals such as sea lions and whales. The southerly origins of the Humboldt also explains the presence of the archetypal Antarctic genus, penguins, in the equatorial Galapagos.

Giant Tortoise: (Geochelone elephantopus). There are 14 described subspecies of the Galapagos tortoise of which 11 still exist, some with only small populations. There are "dome-shelled" and "saddle-backed" Galapagos tortoises. Where ground vegetation is the main source of food the animals are dome-shelled. Those that feed on higher growing cactus have a curved shell front to allow their longer neck to reach the pads.

Galapagos wildlife, marine iguana on Española islandMarine Iguana: Marine iguanas are found all through the Galapagos Islands. Although the iguanas on each island look a little different and are different in size, they are all the same kind of iguana. The iguanas develop their colours as they get older - the young are black, while adults can be combinations of black, green, red or grey, depending on the island on which they live. The iguanas on the island of Espanola are the most colourful, with blotches of red and green. The red colour comes from a kind of seaweed that blooms in the summer.

Land Iguana: There are two species of land iguana found in the Galapagos Islands  Conolophus subcristatus is native to six islands, and Conolophus pallidus is found only on the island of Santa Fe. They are large (over 1 metre long), yellowish animals, with males weighing up to 13 kilograms. Galapagos iguanas are thought to have had a common ancestor which floated out to the islands from the South American mainland on rafts of vegetation. The adult males are very similar in weight and size to a bull. Although they can be very clumsy on land, they can move amazingly good in water and manage to handle all their heavy body of 560 pounds (250 kilograms).

Lava Lizards:  There are seven endemic species of lava lizards on the islands, with colors that range from grey, black, red and orange. The females are usually brown with a brilliant slash of scarlet on the face and throat. They live on all the islands and are commonly seen doing their territorial “push-ups” which vary from island to island. The female lava lizard is easy to tell from the male because of their red throat. The lava lizard are found anywhere around the principal islands, but their survival in Santa Maria Island is threaten by the rats and wild cats.

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Galapagos Islands